To examine variation in the open market cost of a radical prostatectomy (RP) procedure in the US hospitals for an uninsured patient, as many proposals for health care reform highlight the importance of individuals actively participating in selecting care. However, reports suggest that obtaining procedure prices remains challenging and highly variable.
Materials and Methods
We used 2011-2012 US News and World Report rankings to identify a cohort of 100 hospitals making an effort to include an equal distribution of both academic and private centers, city size, and geographic region. Each hospital was called and the essence of the script included a caller stating he was a healthy, uninsured 55-year-old man recently diagnosed with Gleason 3 + 4 prostatic adenocarcinoma with no metastases. Facility, surgeon, and anesthesia fees were solicited.
Seventy hospitals provided facility prices. Facility estimates averaged $34,720 (±20,335; range, $10,100-$135,000), which was statistically higher at academics centers. No significant differences were seen by region, population, or hospital ranking. Surgeon and anesthesia fees were provided by 10%, averaging $8280 (±$4282; range, $4028-$18,720). Thirty-three hospitals provided discounted fees for prompt payment averaging 34% (±16%; range, 10%-80%).
There is wide variation in pricing for RP, with higher rates found in academic centers. Wide variation in facility costs were observed, and nearly all were unable to provide surgeon and/or anesthesia fees. Currently, it appears to be unacceptably difficult for men with prostate cancer without insurance to obtain prices for an RP procedure.